Global & Local Agility without Hubris


February 11, 2013



In the last week I have been provoked to think about two dimensions of enterprise performance:


1.Encouraging enterprise ambition while limiting the risks from Hubris amongst the leaders

2.The balance between acting globally and being locally agile


The Economist Article “Davos Man and his defects” comments on the spread of the “cult of global leader” and points to the Edelman Trust Barometer that shows that business leaders are trusted less than 50% in 16 of 23 markets in 2013.  The Edelman survey report headlines a Crisis of Leadership with trust in Business Leaders ethics and morality being very low and moreover very material gaps between individual perceptions of organisations and organisations’ leaders.  The Economist reminds us that “Abraham Lincoln observed that “nearly all men can stand adversity but if you want to test a man’s character give him power”..…….. clever business people have a tendency to be arrogant at the best of the times; telling them that they are masters of the universe can only magnify it.”


A Henley Business School Special Interest Group tackled this theme from a different perspective in a presentation “The Rise of Hubris – Spiritual Intelligence in Leadership” (the latter including intrinsic values, personality, behaviours, human nature and intelligence). A presentation from Air Vice Marshal Michael Harwood (Retd) used his military experience to explore Spiritual Intelligence in 3 dimensions – considering and then unleashing the human spirit and considering the soul.  Whilst I hope that research will in due course provide insights into how spiritual intelligence thinking can improve our development of Leaders and reduce the dangers of Hubris (without going to the ancient Greek point of outlawing it), what can we do “on Monday” to:


•promote the ambition needed to stretch organisations to generate the growth we need

•minimise the development of hubris amongst your leaders

•combine the benefits of globalisation with the local agility


How about increasing the level of involvement you have with junior people in your organisation? For example:


1.Better Exploiting the knowledge your people have of business to identify actions to grow capabilities to stretch your enterprise – as members of local communities they may have an awareness of local trends etc. that senior individual may miss as the focus on Global matters. To quote from a Jack Welch letter to Shareholders


“The individual is the fountainhead of creativity and innovation and we are struggling to get all of our people to accept the countercultural truth that often the best way to manage people is just to get out of their way. Only by releasing the energy and fire in our employees  can we achieve the decisive, continuous productivity advantages that will give us the freedom to compete and win in any business anywhere on the globe.”


Why not made a start by asking some junior staff to help you learning about how to use Social Media to business advantage?


2.Committing your leaders to spending more time “teaching” and “developing” the less experienced people in your enterprise


3.Develping a clear expectation that Leaders “check their thinking” with others as a routine mechanism to reduce the risks of hubris and “Executive Lust”


Efficienarta is dedicated to helping enterprises improve the efficiency, effectiveness and consistency of their corporate governance. As part of this we would be delighted to help you develop your climb to higher enterprise ambition and more agile capabilities.


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